Rep. Barbara Lee and Rep. Katie Porter set sights on Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat

Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congresswoman Katie Porter have set their sights on Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Senate seat in the hope that the 89-year-old will retire. However, she hasn’t made an announcement about stepping down.

Lee, 76, represents California’s 12th congressional district, which is based in Oakland and covers most of Alameda County. Lee is a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. She served from 2009–2011.

In 1968, Lee began volunteering at the Black Panther Party’s Community Learning Center in Oakland.

She also worked on Bobby Seale’s 1973 campaign for mayor of Oakland. She graduated from Mills College and earned a Master’s Degree in social work from the University of California at Berkeley in 1975.

Porter has been the U.S. representative from California’s 47th congressional district since 2023.  Her district covers most of south-central Orange County.

She graduated from Phillips Academy, Yale University, and Harvard Law School, where she was a student of now-Senator Elizabeth Warren. She is 49.

If Sen. Feinstein decides to leave office, the floodgates will open for many candidates.

Other potential contenders include Rep. Adam Schiff, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, and US Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, a former longtime member of Congress.

Feinstein has filed 2024 reelection paperwork with the FEC but has faced criticism recently about her fitness for the job. She has rejected those suggestions, telling CNN last year that she feels “absolutely†able to serve fully in her position, adding: “I think that’s pretty obvious.†

Her statement comes after the San Francisco Chronicle reported four unnamed senators, including three Democrats, as well as three former Feinstein aides and a California Democratic member of Congress, who spoke with the Chronicle saying her cognitive impairment has gotten worse recently.  She was first elected to the Senate in 1992.

Feinstein added in response to the Chronicle report: “The real question is whether I’m still an effective representative for 40 million Californians, and the record shows that I am.â€

Lee moved to California in 1960 with her parents and attended San Fernando High School in Pacoima.

A divorcee before she turned 20, Lee was a young single mother of two receiving public aid. 

There are now allegations that Porter has used racist language against her staff members.